February 13, 2013
Pollinators as garden beneficials are on my mind as I gear up for my seminars at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Honeybees, birds, wild bees, hummingbirds, bats, mason bees, beetles & more. They’re all I can think about right now. Or, rather, they’re all I should be thinking about given the show opens in a month!
I’ll be giving two pollinator-focused presentations at the show on Sunday, February 24th:
- Potent Planting for Primo Pollinators (Gardening 101: Sustainable Solutions)
- Details: Whether you garden in containers on a balcony or on a larger plot of land, adding plants for pollinators not only helps the environment and promotes better edible harvests, but it also ensures your garden is filled with beautiful flowers and fantastic fragrance day and night. Plus, pollinators – from bees to butterflies to birds and even bats – provide nonstop outdoor entertainment. And, they may even help with pest control! And, for those who want to maximize their fruit & vegetable harvests, luring beneficial fauna is key to your success. Join us to learn how to develop a gorgeous garden with year-round interest plants pollinators simply can’t resist.
- Where: Rainier Room
- When: Sunday, February 24th, 12:30pm
- Bee Harmonious: Plan, Plant & Garden with Bees
- Details: In this informative session led by award-winning urban beekeeper Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company and esteemed garden designer & coach Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors, learn what you can do to budget, design, create & maintain a beautiful, functional garden habit ideal for urban honeybees, wild bees and people too! Whether your goal is to get better pollination in your edible garden, develop your own apiary, become a hive host, or design a gorgeous bee-friendly garden, this session is for you. Learn how to situate hives, budget and plan, comply with regulations and cohabitate harmoniously with bees of all kinds.
- Where: Hood Room
- When: Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 3:15pm
I hope to meet you there…on the show floor or at a seminar! In the meantime, please forgive my less frequent posts as I focus on putting together my presentations. Following us on Twitter & on our Facebook page offers everything you find on this blog, plus much more. (We’re updating several times daily via social networking.) So, please take a moment to sign up and become a part of our social network!
- Potent Planting for Primo Pollinators (Gardening 101: Sustainable Solutions)
December 16, 2012
Still shopping for gifts for your favorite gardeners? While cooking and garden books are great for some, donations fit the bill for others, and apps are ideal for techies. There’s nothing like a little something sparkly to make a gardener’s holiday a little brighter! So, we’ve put together a few of our favorite ideas that really shine to help you get your gardeners gifted just right!
- Classy & Glassy! Glass Gardens NW offers an array of gorgeous glass art for the home and garden. You’ve got until Monday December 17, 2012 to place orders to be delivered by Chrismas day. For under $20 (plus shipping, tax and such), you can send a beautiful tree ornament or glass float. Or, up your order a bit more for a piece of gorgeous garden art that will really wow your gardening loved ones.
- Wearable flowers & sparkly snowflakes: Fancy Dirt Forge offers some amazing enameled flowers that bloom beautifully in pierced ears. And for as little as $25 (plus shipping, tax & all that jazz), you can order up beaded ornaments to shimmer on the tree.
- Sweets for your Sweet:
Get out of a sticky situation with a sweet gift made by some of the hardest working gardeners out there – honey from the bees! Contact Ballard Bee Company to order up anything from simple jars dripping with golden goodness to specialty glass vessels filled with seasonal reserve sweetness or even creamed honey perfect for toast. Or, if your gardener is local to Seattle, order a gift certificate good toward hive supplies & beekeeping consulting services.
- Gift of Learning: Our shameless reminder that giving the gift of garden coaching is a great way to help your favorite gardener shine in their own horty spaces. We’re still taking holiday orders for a few days & then we’re off on vacation until 2013, so get in touch soon!
Stay tuned for more gift ideas later this week. We’ll be adding more app gift ideas and reviews in a day or so. Great thing about apps — you can order them absolutely last minute and still have a great gift to give anytime!
(Full disclosure: Garden Mentors® has received no compensation for this post. Garden Mentors® has received samples and review materials from some of the businesses mentioned, but no direct gifts, review materials or compensation has been paid for this post. We just really like this stuff & often give these products as gifts to our friends & loved ones.)
October 24, 2012
Finding just the right variegated evergreen shrub for the garden can be tricky. Many with variegation will crisp up fast in too much sun. Others may have a tendency to revert to their non-variegated forms — at least on a few branches, giving them a busy, too-much-pattern look. And, quite a few variegated options simply aren’t evergreen, leaving you with see-through pile of twigs come winter instead of a gorgeous, bright privacy planting.
Elaeagnus ‘Gilt Edge’ – an under-used shrub (IMHO) — offers lots of fantastic features. This woody shrub is a relatively slow grower, putting on just a few inches each year. While labels will say that it reaches a mature size of around 4′-5′ tall, I have seen specimens that look more like large evergreen trees, so give this beauty space. Its green and bright yellow leaves tolerate quite a bit of sun — actually performing better in full sun than in shade — but they will do just fine in darker winter corners if they get sun the rest of the year. And, those bright leaves keep the garden cheerful even on the gloomiest, short days. They even glow in moonlight and reflected snow.
In autumn, ‘Gilt Edge’ (and many other Elaeagnus) will surprise you with tiny, mostly hidden flowers that are highly fragrant. A few days ago, as I was planting tiny Iris reticulata in a nearby bed, I kept smelling something incredibly sweet. After scrambling around for a bit, I realized it was this simple shrub perfuming the air. In years past, I had either missed the shrub’s bloom or it simply hadn’t matured enough to begin blooming. If you plant one, be patient, it may take a few years before blooming.
Gilt Edge makes quite a statement with such brilliant, multi-colored leaves, so take care combining it with other “busy” foliage. Too much variegation can make for a garden eyesore. However, planting in combination with solid green ferns and contrasting purples or reds can make for a gorgeous look.
Adding in vertical art forms dappled into the round growth habit and oblong leaf forms of this plant helps both the shrub and the art stand out. Check out photos of this same shrub and garden bed transformed and enhanced by inserting pieces of Glass Gardens NW spears in the bed.
Elaeagnus does have a couple of potentially detracting features. It is fairly slow growing, so have patience; this baby’s worth it. As well, it does grow thorns on its woody stems. It doesn’t put on a lot of them like a barberry, but be watchful for them. (And remember: thorny plants can be a great thing to plant outside your teenager’s window or in any spot to say “keep out”.) In spring, when the new growth emerges, this shrub kind of looks like something is seriously wrong with it. The new leaves are speckled and have a silvery tone to them that some mistake for pest damage and die-back beginning to happen. Really, this is just its awkward phase, and those new leaves will metamorphose into their gorgeous mature form in just a few days.
Very little is required to care for this shrub. Prune it as you would any woody tree-like plant. Ideally, it is not sheared. Shaded interior branches will defoliate, creating more of a tree-like form, over time. Remove any frost damaged leaves and branches in spring. To train, stake younger branches for one season to encourage wider or privacy shapes. Be sure to check ties and stakes regularly, removing them as soon as possible.
August 07, 2012
My friend and garden coaching client Brad recently shared this great method for controlling fruit flies. Brad’s an inspiring guy to work with. He raises chickens in his back yard and has urban honeybees at home and in several other locations around town. (Be on the lookout for the ‘Honey Hole’ brand of urban honey soon!) He grew Loofah in Seattle, which was a new one on me. (Brad, can I have one?) He even roasts his own coffee, and it’s delicious. Too, Brad’s paper goods company, Guided Products, manufactures American-made, unique, recycled paper products. Really, Brad’s an innovator, and I’m glad to learn from him! And, did I mention he’s hilarious too?
Brad recommends: “Grab a glass or jar, piece of clear cling wrap, rubber band and piece of ripe fruit. Drop fruit in jar. Tightly pull down clear wrap around the top of vessel. Wrap rubber band around rim of vessel. With a pen, poke several small holes through the top of the cling wrap that the fly can barely get in. Leave in your fruit fly area. They will get in but have trouble getting out. When I see several in there, I put in the freezer to kill them and set it back out again.”
I just chopped up a peach to go with my homemade yogurt for breakfast. I realized that a bit of fruit stayed stuck to the pit. That would be the perfect piece of fruit to use for this job — otherwise, it’s headed straight for the compost heap. Fortunately, I don’t have fruit flies this season — yet. The time will come, I’m sure.
Want other ideas to control fruit flies? There’s always the option of setting out a small dish of vinegar to attract them & drown them. Or, consider these ideas too:
July 16, 2012
This spring I finally remembered to pick up some Agastache (Anise Hyssop) starts for the garden. They’re a known favorite to bees, and boy are they pretty! So far, even the giant variety is doing great in a medium size container, which I have strategically placed just outside the open greenhouse Dutch door. After gorging themselves at the Agastache feeding trough, meandering bumblebees, hoverflies, and tiny black bees drift into the greenhouse where they bounce from cucumber to cosmos to tomato before heading home again to drop off their forage.
I have yet to see many honeybees on the plants, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t hit it. There’s another giant variety planted just outside the front door of one of our hives. And, I put in a few tiny dwarf varieties near our front steps. Certainly, those honeybee ladies are going to discover one of these plants soon.
But, they better hurry up. I think I’ll try harvesting a few flowers to dehydrate for teas and sachets soon. If you have a great recipe for either, please let me know. I’m all ears!
This morning, I even spied our resident hummingbird sipping from this beautiful plant. I can’t be sure, but I think he may have flown into the greenhouse after. Both ends are open, which means he can fly straight through, and I know he would love to take a drink from the Scarlet runner beans traveling the rafters of the greenhouse. If not today, perhaps tomorrow.